Today marks The Big Help Out to celebrate King Charles’ coronation, which sees people volunteering for worthwhile causes across the UK. It’ll be great to see this become an annual event. Not only do the beneficiaries appreciate the benefits of volunteering, but you as the volunteer gain and share valuable skills.

If you volunteered today and are looking to extend that to a more regular opportunity, may I suggest volunteering for Age UK (or Age International). Age UK is a charity that I have been volunteering at for the last 9 months. I have been part of their Befriending Service. Like most nations, the UK is an ageing population. Following the impact of the pandemic and cuts in public services, the elderly are even more isolated. Loneliness has been increasing in recent years and was exasperated by Covid social-distancing.  Studies have shown loneliness increases the risk of an early death. Loneliness Awareness Week is also coming up in June to highlight such issues. The Befriending Service closes that gap slightly by partnering you up with someone looking for regular chats. This can either be over the phone or face-to-face. They’re very informal chats and it’s amazing what insight you gain from talking to someone that has experienced so much.   

From a personal perspective, I chatted to my friend “E” each week, mostly about his life and what was happening in the world of sport. He was a fan of F1 and snooker like I am, so lots of fun discussions about the current state of the sport. For someone who was registered blind, he also enjoyed using his computer with a magnified monitor, mostly to play Sudoku. It was always good to remind him about the dangers of the web and to stay safe from potential scams. This guide outlining 9 simple and effective online safety tips is quite handy in summarising the potential dangers and how to protect your older family and friends.

More info

For more information please visit the Age UK website or visit one of their local branches. There are DBS checks and some initial online training to complete before they match you with a friend based on similar likes, hobbies and interests.

If this type of volunteering isn’t for you, there are other opportunities available, such as being a digital buddy or helping with events. Alternatively, there are numerous other charities that require your support and assistance. All you have to do is find something you’re interested in. It’s also easier if you have particular skills you can share – for example, providing admin or bookkeeping services, financial literacy training to school children, landscaping or building services. Not only will you gain valuable experience, you’ll also meet other people and can add it to your CV. It’s a win-win for all those involved!